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View Poll Results: Does the Five Factor Model inherently define a "good" personality?

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  1. #1

    Default Does the Five Factor Model inherently define a "good" personality?

    Does the Five Factor Model implicitly or explicitly define a "good" personality?

    My reading of the literature so far seems like there is an inherently normative language used even in academic research. That is language that makes clear that certain traits are more desirable than others.

    For instance, the Big Five asserts:
    1) Being Extroverted is better than being introverted. An introvert is a lesser being.
    2) Being Agreeable is better than being disagreeable. The disagreeable are lesser beings.
    3) Being Conscientious is better than being not conscientious. Those that aren't conscientious are lesser beings.
    4) Being calm is better than being Neurotic. Those who are Neurotic are lesser beings.
    5) Being Open is better than not being open. Those who are not open are lesser beings.

    I don't think it should come as a surprise that academic researchers who study personality are Extroverted, Agreeable, Conscientious, calm and Open. Self-serving is part of human nature after all.

    So what do you think, does the Five Factor model inherently define a "good" personality?

    Clarification: I am asking if you think the Five Factor model is inherently biased.

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  2. #2
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    I think the five-factor model was found out by multidimensional analysis of some psychometric data. The labels given to significant vectors in that multivariate data are just labels. I do think many of those labels are preferred one way or the other by the researchers. I agree that the interpretation you found is accurate in that extroversion is preferred over introversion, etc. Personally, it's not stopping me from preferring "disagreeable" style thinking over the more well-liked agreeable style.

    In part, the researcher's preference is probably a reflection of the situation in real world. Not being neurotic gives some advantages. Maybe they've just found the most popular formula for being great at what you do? I find it easy to believe that there are more opportunities for an agreeable person to succeed as there is for someone disagreeable. Not all careers benefit from agreeability though. Critical thinking is good for sciences. Expressing discontent is regularly required in law enforcement and security.

    So what I think is that the researchers have found the most usual formula for a successfull personality, but that formula is not the only formula for success. In other words, I do not think that the Five factor model is biased in any critical way.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    I don't look at it that way, ygolo. (But then I don't think in terms of "good" and "bad" personalities.) Frankly, I see being disagreeable as a plus - it works for me.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Does the Five Factor Model implicitly or explicitly define a "good" personality?

    My reading of the literature so far seems like there is an inherently normative language used even in academic research. That is language that makes clear that certain traits are more desirable than others.

    For instance, the Big Five asserts:
    1) Being Extroverted is better than being introverted. An introvert is a lesser being.
    2) Being Agreeable is better than being disagreeable. The disagreeable are lesser beings.
    3) Being Conscientious is better than being not conscientious. Those that aren't conscientious are lesser beings.
    4) Being calm is better than being Neurotic. Those who are Neurotic are lesser beings.
    5) Being Open is better than not being open. Those who are not open are lesser beings.

    I don't think it should come as a surprise that academic researchers who study personality are Extroverted, Agreeable, Conscientious, calm and Open. Self-serving is part of human nature after all.

    So what do you think, does the Five Factor model inherently define a "good" personality?

    Clarification: I am asking if you think the Five Factor model is inherently biased.
    Yes, I think its biased for the reasons you give. Largely why I'm not a huge fan of that personality system.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santtu View Post
    I think the five-factor model was found out by multidimensional analysis of some psychometric data. The labels given to significant vectors in that multivariate data are just labels. I do think many of those labels are preferred one way or the other by the researchers. I agree that the interpretation you found is accurate in that extroversion is preferred over introversion, etc. Personally, it's not stopping me from preferring "disagreeable" style thinking over the more well-liked agreeable style.

    In part, the researcher's preference is probably a reflection of the situation in real world. Not being neurotic gives some advantages. Maybe they've just found the most popular formula for being great at what you do? I find it easy to believe that there are more opportunities for an agreeable person to succeed as there is for someone disagreeable. Not all careers benefit from agreeability though. Critical thinking is good for sciences. Expressing discontent is regularly required in law enforcement and security.

    So what I think is that the researchers have found the most usual formula for a successfull personality, but that formula is not the only formula for success. In other words, I do not think that the Five factor model is biased in any critical way.
    In the real world, extraversion and conscientiousness are also beneficial, especially in the workplace. There can be instances where introversion can be a benefit- in situations where you work alone for long periods of time. Low conscientiousness can benefit when in work situations that are less structured, that require more flexibility. But by and large, extraversion and conscientious seem the desired way to be. Same with agreeableness and not being neurotic.

    Are there benefits to being highly neurotic? Not too many that I can think of. About all I can think of is that in some situations, anxiety about doing well can be a motivator- but that's neurotic in moderation. I have trouble thinking about how a high degree of neuroticism could be beneficial.

    Regarding openness to experience, it's generally a good trait to have but there are some jobs where high openness would not be ideal. Something highly repetitive with a high degree bureaucracy for example.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    It's ygolo who made it appear biased:

    An introvert is a lesser being.
    The disagreeable are lesser beings.
    Those that aren't conscientious are lesser beings.
    Those who are Neurotic are lesser beings.
    Those who are not open are lesser beings.

    Those are not comments published by Costa and McCrae.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Santtu View Post
    I think the five-factor model was found out by multidimensional analysis of some psychometric data. The labels given to significant vectors in that multivariate data are just labels. I do think many of those labels are preferred one way or the other by the researchers. I agree that the interpretation you found is accurate in that extroversion is preferred over introversion, etc. Personally, it's not stopping me from preferring "disagreeable" style thinking over the more well-liked agreeable style.

    In part, the researcher's preference is probably a reflection of the situation in real world. Not being neurotic gives some advantages. Maybe they've just found the most popular formula for being great at what you do? I find it easy to believe that there are more opportunities for an agreeable person to succeed as there is for someone disagreeable. Not all careers benefit from agreeability though. Critical thinking is good for sciences. Expressing discontent is regularly required in law enforcement and security.

    So what I think is that the researchers have found the most usual formula for a successfull personality, but that formula is not the only formula for success. In other words, I do not think that the Five factor model is biased in any critical way.
    They did factor analysis on a bunch of descriptive words. If you don't believe a bias can be baked into "pure statistical analysis" you've missed the whole Frequentist vs. Bayesian debate.



    Update: Bayesian's won. It is essentially the statistical equivalent of what philosophers already knew-- even with valid logic, the argument can be based on faulty premises.

    The main faulty premise in the Big Five, I believe, is the Lexical Hypothesis. Here we believe that descriptions of other people are indicators of reality itself. But many (if not most) of the words used in the lexicon have "normative" content in that they posses within them value judgments.

    The words "bullheaded" and "persistent" are in many ways synonyms, but one we think of as "bad", the other we think of as "good." It should come as no surprise then that words that are "good", despite being somewhat at odds in real personalies, being correlated in descriptive language ...like "deliberate" and "decisive".

    Add to this, the fact that factor analysis has a large amount of arbitrariness built into the technique itself. I find it unsurprising that the normative content of words that are "good" combine in an area that personality researchers would claim for themselves.

    What is troubling, however, is that this model is in fact the most favored one in academic research.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    I don't look at it that way, ygolo. (But then I don't think in terms of "good" and "bad" personalities.) Frankly, I see being disagreeable as a plus - it works for me.
    Whether we like it or not, words do have a normative content. See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    It's ygolo who made it appear biased:

    An introvert is a lesser being.
    The disagreeable are lesser beings.
    Those that aren't conscientious are lesser beings.
    Those who are Neurotic are lesser beings.
    Those who are not open are lesser beings.

    Those are not comments published by Costa and McCrae.
    Well, yes. I was illustrating a point. The words cluster to make those statements, and the Big 5 wouldn't be so widely accepted if the the statements were so clearly highlighted.

    I assure you, I am not the first to make the observation of the inherent bias in the actual content of Big 5 research.

    I should add, it has been well established that everyone is biased. The key now is to attempt to state those biases explicitly, and correct them in the face of relevant arguments and evidence.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I should add, it has been well established that everyone is biased.
    The sky is blue. I think I'll start a thread to ask who thinks the sky is blue. Or should I ask people if they think the sky is a lesser shade of blue, due to their inherent bias?

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Whether we like it or not, words do have a normative content. See above.
    Do I strike you as someone who cares about normative content? Come on, now.
    Some may view high conscientiousness as a "norm."

    Two facets of conscientiousness:

    1. Orderliness. Persons with high scores on orderliness are well-organized. They like to live according to routines and schedules.

    2. Dutifulness. This scale reflects the strength of a person's sense of duty and obligation. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining.

    I do not score high on conscientiousness. Routines and schedules? No thanks. And, yes, I find rules and regulations overly confining, at times. I've been known to say IRL, " Rules? Fuck the rules."
    Now, what if I were to state that I find those who score high conscientiousness to be a "lesser being," then what?

    It's all in how you look at it.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    The sky is blue. I think I'll start a thread to ask who thinks the sky is blue. Or should I ask people if they think the sky is a lesser shade of blue, due to their inherent bias?
    It's funny you should mention that because in early literature the sky wasn't called blue. There wasn't even a real word for blue.

    I think this was the radiolab story about this:
    Why Isn't the Sky Blue? - Radiolab

    This may lead to a very strange discussion about semantics, which could be interesting. Nevertheless, I am not sure what you are getting at with this comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    Do I strike you as someone who cares about normative content? Come on, now.
    Some may view high conscientiousness as a "norm."

    Two facets of conscientiousness:

    1. Orderliness. Persons with high scores on orderliness are well-organized. They like to live according to routines and schedules.

    2. Dutifulness. This scale reflects the strength of a person's sense of duty and obligation. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining.

    I do not score high on conscientiousness. Routines and schedules? No thanks. And, yes, I find rules and regulations overly confining, at times. I've been known to say IRL, " Rules? Fuck the rules."
    Now, what if I were to state that I find those who score high conscientiousness to be a "lesser being," then what?

    It's all in how you look at it.
    I am not calling introverts or unconscientious are lesser beings. What I am saying is that there are words that strike people as "good" (agreed not all people equally) and there are words that strike people as bad (again, not all people equally).

    The Big Five is used in things like job readiness predictors, psychological evaluations for doing team building, and so on.

    What I am saying is that there are certain words that will skew the results of these things significantly because people will associate certain words with other words (again, not everyone equally). This inherent bias remains largely unaccounted for in Big Five research (and I believe it is enough to cause spurious conclusions).

    I have no intention to make this personal. I am not sure if you care about normative content or not, and I don't care if you care. The fact remains, words have value judgement inherent in them.

    My main point is that, based on how the Big Five was constructed (built on words), an inherent normative bias has taken root, where the "good" words clustered around the "good" end of the factors that were chosen.

    I make other points, but that's the main one, and I am asking if people agree. Like I said, I am not the only one to have noticed this pattern.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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